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OPEN FORUM I BY ROBERT BRYCE The Neocons’ Version of Energy Security IThe phrase “energy security” has joined the likes of apple pie, motherhood and free wifi access as near-tothe-heart things that no one dare speak against. Indeed, over the past year or so, a group of Washington insidersled by stalwart pro-Iraq war neoconservatives like former CIA director James Woolsey and ultrahawk Frank Gaffneyhave been beating the drum of energy security, insisting that America must act quickly to end its dependence on imported oil. Gaffney has called reducing our imports from the Persian Gulf “a national security imperative.” Woolsey, who has been talking about energy security issues for decades, drives a Toyota Prius. Woolsey, Gaffney, and others have helped launch a coalition called Set America Free, which is led by yet more neoconservatives, including the Hudson Institute’s Meyrav Wurmser. \(In 1996, she was one of the authors along with Richard Perle and Douglas Feithof a strategy paper for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and military assaults against environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, have also joined the new coalition. While the idea of reducing oil imports makes sense, the hard truth about the neocons and their agenda is this: Their “war first” mentality and strident militarism has had one clear resultincreased energy insecurity for Americans and tens of millions of other citizens around the world. There’s no shortage of irony in the fact that the neocons are now the main cheerleaders for energy efficiency and energy security when their own actions have spawned global energy insecurity. But I’ll leave the irony alert aside and instead focus on a few examples of how the Bush Administration has left America more vulnerable to energy supply disruptions. First on the list, of course, is Iraq. In mid-July, the new Iraqi prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, made his first visit to Iran. One of Jaafari’s first stops was to the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, on which he laid a wreath. Khomeini, of course, was the Muslim leader who returned in triumph to Iran after the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran. Iraq, which the neocons assured us would become a bastion of democracy in the Middle East, is, instead, becoming a theocratic regime led by Shiites. During Jaafari’s visit, Iranian president Mohamma Khatami told reporters, “Iran will do everything it can to assure the reconstruction, security, and stability of Iraq.” That includes a new energy alliance. And here again, the irony abounds. Just two decades ago, the Iranians and the Iraqis were enmeshed in a bloody war. During that conflict, the Iraqis bombed one of Iran’s main oil export terminals, Kharg Island. But thanks to their new alliance, the Iraqis will soon be exporting their crude oil through Kharg Island! Iran’s oil minister, Bijan Zanganeh, said that the deal between the two countries would also include “rehabilitating oil and gas facilities in Iraq, and investment in petrochemicals in Iraq and so on.” Given worries about Iran’s nuclear capabilities, what will happen if the Israelis decide to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites? Could Iran and Iraq decide to embargo oil shipments to the U.S. in retaliation for its support for Israel? Well, the Arab oil producers have done that before, in 1967 and again in 1973. Mike Ameen, who has worked for decades in the Middle East for companies like Aramco and Mobil, says the result of the Iraq fiasco is hard to believe. “We fought and we killed thousands in Iraq to set up another Iran?” says Ameen, who lives in Houston. “I’m worried. I’m really worried.” What other mischief can the Bush Administration do? Well, it’s opposing the proposed gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India. Dubbed the \(\(peace pipeline” because it would unite the economic interests of India and Pakistan, which have been skirmishing for decades, the proposed 1,600mile line would be a reliable source of gas for both energy-starved nations. The Bush Administration wants to isolate Iran. But Iran has enormous gas reservesabout 970 trillion cubic feet, which makes them second only to Russia in total reservesand that Iranian gas will find a way to market. By opposing the pipeline, the U.S. is A “WAR FIRST” MENTALITY HAS HAD ONE CLEAR RESULT: INCREASED ENERGY INSECURITY FOR AMERICANS AND THE WORLD. 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 9, 2005